The Verge of a Renaissance: Downtown and Midtown Fort Myers

By Gary Tasman

Fort Myers’ River District has been on the cusp of a renaissance for several years. The walkable streets, charming shops, outdoor dining, and plentiful events have drawn visitors back to the city’s once-struggling downtown. This month’s opening of the long-awaited Luminary Hotel & Co. may well represent the tipping point in Fort Myers’ downtown transformation from a local favorite to a national conference and vacation destination. For property investors, this change represents a great opportunity.

For three decades, Fort Myers has watched convention business flee southward to the islands, Bonita Springs, and Naples, despite boasting a 30,000-square foot conference center. Limited hotel space in the downtown core, combined with the allure of beaches and outdoor recreation in other locations, made these other spots more ideal sites for business travelers and their families.

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The Luminary and other future developments in Fort Myers will resolve many of these issues, and drive demand for even more development in and around the River District. The 243-room Luminary is one of three downtown-area hotels in the works. A proposed 111-room Hampton Inn at the intersection of Cleveland Ave. and McGregor Blvd. and a 135-room Holiday Inn on the east side of the River District on Second St. are both currently in permitting and will offer lodging at a variety of price points for convention-goers and families.

“The Caloosa Sound Convention Center and the Luminary Hotel are just the beginning,” explains Shawn Stoneburner of Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida. “Business owners want to keep convention attendees and their families downtown, and we can expect to see a lot of growth in entertainment and recreation to keep folks in Fort Myers for their full stay.”

The organization behind the Luminary, MainSail Lodging & Development, will be part of that plan. In addition to onsite hotel amenities like a rooftop lounge, coffee roastery, and culinary theater, MainSail will develop an amphitheater in Centennial Park for year-round entertainment. The company is also converting the empty City Pier building into a restaurant and recreational outfitter where visitors can rent a bicycle, paddle board or kayak to navigate the city’s riverfront.

With the potential for thousands of new weekly visitors downtown for conferences and meetings, the demand for even more vibrant entertainment offerings will be high, potentially reshaping the look and character of both downtown and midtown Fort Myers. The city’s Midtown Vision Plan will build upon the success of the River District and extend the city’s core beyond Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.

As it is currently planned, the city’s vision for Midtown would turn the area just south of the River District into a vibrant, mixed-use community over the next decade. The district would expand the city’s historic downtown while infusing economic development into the area just south of downtown.

Anchored by City of Palms Park, Midtown has seen little development or investment since the Boston Red Sox vacated its spring training home nearly a decade ago. “Property values have been relatively static in Midtown, and very little property has changed hands in this area,” says Stoneburner. “But when there has been development in Midtown, it’s been big news. The transformation of the old train depot into the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is one great example.”

Smart investors are scouting not only downtown Fort Myers but also Midtown for opportunities to take advantage of the city’s upcoming renaissance. City leaders are committed to revitalizing the Midtown neighborhood, increasing density levels to allow for more multi-unit housing and commercial buildings, and improving the utility infrastructure to support more development.

If you currently hold property in or around downtown or midtown Fort Myers, you don’t want to miss out on the budding opportunities in this area. The experts at Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida are equipped with local expertise and access to best-in-class data and analytics to create powerful insights. Cushman & Wakefield’s professionals can provide you with a free property valuation to help you determine the ideal price for your property and discover the optimal time to sell.

The landscape of downtown and midtown Fort Myers is changing. Are you ready for it? Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida wants to help you take advantage of this opportunity. Contact-us.

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